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Nutrition: Feeding for Weight Loss

obese horse

One of the biggest challenges when feeding your horse for weight loss is reducing his dietary energy while at the same time fulfilling his need to chew and the need for gut fill. Follow these tips to help slim your horse down to a healthy weight.

10 Tips to get you started:

• The most effective regime includes a very low-energy forage that keeps the horse chewing while also restricting energy intake

Late-cut stemmy hay, or late-cut stemmy high-fibre haylage are lower in energy and better choices than early-cut leafy forages

Straw is useful if you really need to reduce calorie intake, it can be mixed with hay or haylage to reduce overall nutrient content. Straw is safe if introduced gradually and should be fed with ad-lib access to water and only to horses with good dental function

Restrict grass intake, most grass is medium to high in energy. Strip graze according to condition and supplement with low-energy forage if needed

Muzzles are useful although use one that allows some access to grass so there are no long periods of fasting. Be conscious of any rubbing, or potential hazards such as getting caught on fences

• If feed is drastically reduced ensure what is fed is split to several small batches over 24hrs to avoid fasting. Fat horses who have their forage restricted too severely have a high risk of a potentially fatal disease called hyperlipidaemia

No concentrate feed should be given as it is not needed. Avoid cereals, starchy or sugary feeds as fat horses are often insulin-resistant and such feeds worsen this problem

A source of micronutrients should be fed to horses on weight loss regimes because low-energy forage will be short of some essential nutrients. ReadySupp Essential Vitamins & Minerals is a comprehensive broad spectrum supplement with plenty of macrominerals ideal for this

Exercise as much as possible and ensure workload is increased gradually to avoid injury. Exercise boosts the action of insulin and helps to normalise the blood nutrient and hormone profiles of fat horses, which in theory makes them healthier and less at risk of laminitis

 


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The article above has been written including excerpts from ReadySupp’s consultant nutritionist Clare MacLeod’s (MSC RNutr) book ‘The Truth About Feeding Your Horse’ – which you can purchase online at equinenutritionist.co.uk

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Posted in Equine Nutrition, General, Horse Feed
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